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Board Asked to Approve Purchase of Homeless Shelter Building

By Katie Pyzyk

Friday - 11/9/2012, 7:08pm  ET

Next week, the Arlington County Board will be asked to approve the County’s acquisition of a building in Courthouse that will house offices and a homeless shelter.

At its meeting next Saturday (November 17), the Board will examine the purchase contract for the building (2020 14th St. N.), which has an expected purchase price of $27.1 million. County staff estimates the total project cost at approximately $42 million over five years, factoring in additional costs for design, renovation, and tenant relocation.

The building purchase has been controversial since it was proposed nearly a year ago, both due to the cost and resident complaints about safety.

As far as funding for the project, the county said the following in a press release:

Includes $20 million of revenue bonds issued through the Arlington County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), $12 million of previously approved Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) funding, and $6 million from Fiscal Year 2012 close-out funds. In approving the property acquisition, the County Board will also be asked to approve a temporary loan of $20 million from the Utilities Fund PAYG account to the General Fund PAYG account. This will be a temporary “bridge” loan, which will be reimbursed by the issuance of IDA revenue bonds. Funding for the $4 million in out-year costs is not proposed for County Board action at this time. Staff will request these funds once floors 4-7 of the building are available and renovations can take place.

If the measure is approved, the county expects to acquire title to the property at a closing on November 20. More information about the project is available on its website.

More from the county’s press release:

Acquiring 2020 14th St. N. will help the County government meet immediate space needs and provide the flexibility needed to support growing community needs. For ease of public access and efficiency, it is important that the County government’s office space and staff be located in the Courthouse area, which is the center of County government operations.

If the County Board approves the County’s acquisition of the property at 2020 14th Street N., County staff will host a series of public discussions and workshops to solicit input on certain physical and operational aspects of the property, including elements relating to the homeless services center.

Community dialogue: The first meeting is scheduled for Dec. 5, 2012, 7-9:30 p.m. at Key Elementary School. At this session, County staff will be listening to community questions and concerns. The result of this initial session will be community-generated input, ideas and preferences that County staff and building designers can use during the design and operational planning phases of the project.

Workshop: At the second meeting, an interactive workshop scheduled for Dec. 17, 2012 (7-9:30 p.m.) at Key Elementary, participants will be able to review draft building and operational plans, which will incorporate input from the first meeting. Participants will have the opportunity to provide further suggestions at that meeting.

Design review: The third meeting, scheduled for Jan. 14, 2013 (7-9:30 p.m.) at Key Elementary, will include a presentation of the County’s final plans.

Concurrent with these meetings, the County will solicit input on aspects of the project through its PLACE/OpenArlington online virtual town hall meeting website.

The project timeline is expected to include a Planning Commission hearing and a Use Permit hearing before the County Board in spring 2013.